Sometimes, the families that want children the most are the ones who are unable to have them.
Those families may not be able to bring their own flesh and blood into the world, but they can be the most caring, loving parents to children that need a little extra love and attention. From foster parents and volunteers to families that choose the path of adoption, these are the stories that have a little extra tenderness behind them.
That’s the case with mother Sherry Blackledge and her daughter Brooke.
Sherry adopted her first child in 1983, bringing home a little baby boy named Brian after learning that she and her husband Craig would be unable to have children of their own.
They thought their journey as new parents ended there—but in 1994, a young woman passed through their town of Laurel, Mississippi and brought another gift into their lives.
The young woman had just seen a planned adoption for her unborn daughter fall through when she ended up travelling through Laurel, visiting the maternity ward at Sherry’s hospital one day during Sherry’s shift. She was inspired by Sherry’s reassuring tale of her own adopted Brian, and offered the mother another chance to raise an infant—her own, whom she was about to give birth to.
11 years after bringing home their first child, the Blackledges brought home baby Brooke as well.
Over the next 20 years, the bond between Sherry and her only daughter grew inseparable. On Brooke’s wedding day, though, she gave her daughter the kind of thoughtful gift that only a true parent could.
It was printed on a piece of Sherry’s old wedding dress; in neat, cursive script, the gift revealed a love letter from the mother to her daughter, penned two decades earlier and kept safe until the right moment.
“Dear little baby Brooke,” the letter began.
“As I write this to you, you are sleeping soundly…”
The letter went on to address the sleeping baby, telling her exactly how much love and happiness the infant had brought her new family as she settled into her new home.
Written when Brooke was just 18 months old, the letter remained a secret for the 20 years until her wedding day came along, hidden in a wrapping made of newspapers in a bedside drawer.
Initially, the letter had been written on plain paper, but Sherry wanted the gift to be as special as her miracle daughter. She took the piece of her wedding dress to a print specialist named Erin Napier, who helped her create a memory that Brooke will never forget.
Just before Brooke was set to walk down the aisle, her mother ushered everyone out of the room but the film crew documenting her big day. It was at that point that she delivered the gift to her daughter, watching on as it caused an onslaught of happy tears.
Brooke revealed later just how special it was to her that, when she was less than two years old, someone had already been thinking about her wedding day.
She’s planning to pass the sentiment on decades in the future, when her own expectant child walks down the aisle as well – creating a chain reaction that started one random day at work for a mother who wanted nothing more than a little baby girl of her own.
Watch the beautiful moment below: